Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

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lennygoran
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Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by lennygoran » Fri Dec 28, 2018 10:33 am

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The Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

By Rebecca Schmid

Dec. 28, 2018

VIENNA — There was no mistaking the Vienna Philharmonic’s plush sound in November at the Musikverein here, as Franz Welser-Möst conducted excerpts from Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung.” Gentle strings, glowing brass and a blend across all instrumental sections spoke to a culture of playing that has been cultivated since the 19th century.

But even for an orchestra that lives and breathes tradition, recruiting the next generation of talent is no longer self-evident. That is why, for the first time in its history, the Philharmonic is opening an academy to train musicians hands-on. Auditions begin early next year amid a busy schedule that includes touring to Lugano, Switzerland; Salzburg, Austria; Frankfurt; Budapest; and, in early March, New York.

Orchestra academies offer young players a transition from conservatory to professional life but also allow institutions to pass on their specific culture of playing. The Berlin Philharmonic has maintained its own academy since 1972, at the initiative of Herbert von Karajan, and graduates currently occupy about 30 percent of the orchestra’s seats. More recently, in 2014, the Shanghai Symphony began partnering with the New York Philharmonic to prepare instrumentalists in China for the demands of orchestral life.

The Vienna Philharmonic’s academy will be comparatively small and exclusive. Only 12 players, ages up to 26, will gain admission to a fully subsidized two-year program not only immersing them in the traditional curriculum of chamber music, private lessons and performances with full orchestra, but also exposing them to Austrian culture and history. At least one instrumentalist will be from the United States, thanks to support from the Vienna Philharmonic Society, and talks are underway with leading East Coast conservatories.

The double-bassist Michael Bladerer, who also serves as managing director of the self-governed orchestra, admitted that the Philharmonic had been disappointed in recent years with the quality of auditions for new players. He hopes that the academy will raise standards.


“Very often people are good technically, but we don’t always find what we are looking for,” he said. There is a desire, he said, to hear what he called “character,” adding, “In opera, it is about life and death.”

The Philharmonic divides its time between the pit of the Vienna State Opera and a schedule of up to 130 concerts annually. Players must rapidly learn new repertoire and, in the absence of a general music director, adapt to the style of different conductors. Even in pure orchestral music, the Philharmonic — and in particular the string section — is known for its singing quality.

Mr. Welser-Möst likened the orchestra’s musical language to a dialect that must be preserved in an age of internationalization. He called the academy an important initiative for ensuring that the Vienna Philharmonic would not become interchangeable with other orchestras, citing as examples the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra, which are also famous for their rich strings.

“It is about having everyone speak the same language,” he said.

Seasoned conductors such as Mr. Welser-Möst, Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta and Herbert Blomstedt are already lined up to coach and lecture academy members when they are conducting the Philharmonic in Vienna. Plans are also underway for the academy to perform its own chamber series at the Musikverein and at the Stift Melk, an opulent baroque abbey in Lower Austria where players will enjoy a tour of the monastery library, crypt and more.

“One has to have seen, felt and smelled it to understand how old this culture is,” Mr. Bladerer said. “You can’t just read about it or look at a picture.”


Academy members will also be encouraged to study scores and letters in the archives of the Philharmonic and the Musikverein in connection with a given piece of music. The Philharmonic’s chairman and first violinist, Daniel Froschauer, recalled the impression of studying the original score of Schubert’s Fourth Symphony during rehearsals.

“One never forgets it again,” he said. “Now that I’ve seen how the crescendi look, I play it differently.”

The Philharmonic has distinguished itself over the centuries for its specifically Viennese, as opposed to German, sound culture. While it is possible to isolate certain features such as judicious use of vibrato or the sonority of native instruments such as Vienna horn or Vienna oboe, critics often resort to metaphors.

Eduard Hanslick wrote of the “feminine” as opposed to “masculine” approach, the sensual rather than the rigorous, in 1860. As Christian Merlin explains in his recent book “Le Philharmonique de Vienne. Biographie d’un Orchestre” (The Vienna Philharmonic. Biography of an Orchestra), the Viennese style results from the fusion of “Jewish, German, Czech, Hungarian, Slavic, Balkan components, forming a truly multinational melting pot.”


Until the 1970s, the sound culture was easily transmitted as most members studied with a Philharmonic player at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna before joining the orchestra. But in recent years, recruitment has become less and less local. The presence of family dynasties has also waned, with percussionists Benjamin Schmidinger, the solo clarinetist Daniel Ottensamer and a handful of other players serving as exceptions.

The orchestra also experienced a large turnover in age and nationality over the past two decades. More than 50 of the orchestra’s 148 players retired from 2000 to 2012, and the Philharmonic’s average age is currently 40. About 30 percent of players are foreign-born, as opposed to 18 percent in 1974.

The majority of foreign players come from Central and Eastern Europe, reaching back to the Philharmonic’s roots in the fabric of the Austro-Hungarian empire, but also extending to Russia (the violinist Ekaterina Frolova is one of 16 women).

As Mr. Merlin notes, the engagement of overseas players has been “more episodic.” At present, only Australia and New Zealand are represented, through three players.

The academy will be an opportunity to widen networks for recruiting and to embed young players in the Philharmonic’s working conditions. Accompanying duties at the State Opera will be limited, however, to ensure students have enough time to practice and win an audition either into the Philharmonic (a process that requires playing in the opera pit for three years before becoming an official member) or another great orchestra.

Mr. Welser-Möst spoke of the need “to infect these young people with the virus”: “It is a calling for most people to be a part of the Philharmonic,” he said, noting the personal dedication with which Mr. Bladerer and Mr. Froschauer are opening the academy.

“The way we play must be experienced,” Mr. Froschauer said. “There is a collective memory that we pass on without knowing it. This is an opportunity for young people from around the world to come and take part.”


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/28/arts ... unced.html

John F
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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by John F » Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:21 pm

Rebecca Schmid wrote:Until the 1970s, the sound culture was easily transmitted as most members studied with a Philharmonic player at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna before joining the orchestra. But in recent years, recruitment has become less and less local. The presence of family dynasties has also waned...
I wonder why. If this is so, then it will indeed be very hard for the orchestra to retain its special character, its sound and style. That would be a pity.
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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by Belle » Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:30 pm

John F wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:21 pm
Rebecca Schmid wrote:Until the 1970s, the sound culture was easily transmitted as most members studied with a Philharmonic player at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna before joining the orchestra. But in recent years, recruitment has become less and less local. The presence of family dynasties has also waned...
I wonder why. If this is so, then it will indeed be very hard for the orchestra to retain its special character, its sound and style. That would be a pity.
Agreed. There is no mystery at all; the orchestra is feeling the ideological pressure of political correctness and affirmative action, just as we all are.

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by maestrob » Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:43 pm

John F wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:21 pm
Rebecca Schmid wrote:Until the 1970s, the sound culture was easily transmitted as most members studied with a Philharmonic player at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna before joining the orchestra. But in recent years, recruitment has become less and less local. The presence of family dynasties has also waned...
I wonder why. If this is so, then it will indeed be very hard for the orchestra to retain its special character, its sound and style. That would be a pity.
Indeed. The Academy is a brilliant idea, IMHO. As for the unique sound of the Vienna brass section, my nephew (the French horn player) wondered aloud to me recently that he has no idea how they play, say, Bruckner & Mahler at a suitable volume with such unique instruments, but they manage. I would point to Giulini's recording of Bruckner VIII as a prime example of both fine conducting and playing.

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by Belle » Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:47 pm

I will love this orchestra to my dying days.

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by maestrob » Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:43 pm

Belle wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:47 pm
I will love this orchestra to my dying days.
Agreed! It is the only orchestra (aside from the Czech Philharmonic, which is sounding more and more generic lately) that has retained a unique sound throughout my lifetime. That sound remains one of world culture's great mysteries, and should be preserved.

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by jserraglio » Fri Dec 28, 2018 2:50 pm

The Cleveland Orchestra too. It adopted a unique sound signature in the past century and has kept it to this day.

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by Belle » Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:24 pm

jserraglio wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 2:50 pm
The Cleveland Orchestra too. It adopted a unique sound signature in the past century and has kept it to this day.
For what it's worth, there is a common denominator here: Franz Welser-Möst.

I haven't given up the idea of returning to Vienna just one more time to see and hear, inter alia, the Wiener Philharmoniker. (Not renewing my subscription this time to the Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall.) Travel becomes more arduous as you age and Sydney Airport is absolutely exhausting and exasperating; bollards, blocked off lanes to security and immigration, tired and fed-up staff, overcrowding in boarding gates etc. I'm not sure I'm up for it anymore.

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by Lance » Sat Dec 29, 2018 12:10 am

Couldn't concur more with you Sue. Travel by air is a pain, needless to say where. And AGE certainly enters into the picture. My aim, one day, too, is to visit Australia. It has long been on my mind.
Belle wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:24 pm
For what it's worth, there is a common denominator here: Franz Welser-Möst.
I haven't given up the idea of returning to Vienna just one more time to see and hear, inter alia, the Wiener Philharmoniker. (Not renewing my subscription this time to the Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall.) Travel becomes more arduous as you age and Sydney Airport is absolutely exhausting and exasperating; bollards, blocked off lanes to security and immigration, tired and fed-up staff, overcrowding in boarding gates etc. I'm not sure I'm up for it anymore.
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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by Belle » Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:18 am

We would like to see you in Australia; make sure you avoid the hot summers. Between seasons (Autumn) is best.

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by lennygoran » Sat Dec 29, 2018 6:00 am

Belle wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:24 pm
Travel becomes more arduous as you age../ I'm not sure I'm up for it anymore.
Belle but surely that doesn't apply to your upcoming trip to NYC-the tour of Brooklyn NY I promised you! Regards, Len :D :D :D

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by John F » Sat Dec 29, 2018 6:30 am

Next Tuesday we can see and, more importantly, hear the present-day Vienna Philharmonic in its New Year's Day concert. This year's conductor is Christian THielemann, unless he walks out. :mrgreen: I don't expect an idiomatic Johann Strauss style from him, but as in the past (Georges Prêtre, Seiji Ozawa), the orchestra can provide the style regardless of what the conductor may be doing or not doing. On the East Coast it's on many PBS stations at 2 PM with a repeat at 9pm.
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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by Belle » Sat Dec 29, 2018 11:47 am

John F wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 6:30 am
Next Tuesday we can see and, more importantly, hear the present-day Vienna Philharmonic in its New Year's Day concert. This year's conductor is Christian THielemann, unless he walks out. :mrgreen: I don't expect an idiomatic Johann Strauss style from him, but as in the past (Georges Prêtre, Seiji Ozawa), the orchestra can provide the style regardless of what the conductor may be doing or not doing. On the East Coast it's on many PBS stations at 2 PM with a repeat at 9pm.
We will be watching it ourselves, though I care little for the repertoire. Just being 'inside' that hall with the orchestra in their fairly new, Vivian Westwood livery is enough for me!! Thielemann is much loved by the Viennese.

The Wiener Philharmoniker Neujahrskonzert has really become a tourism marketing exercise for Austria!! As if it needs to be sold...!!!!! :lol:

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by John F » Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:37 pm

It's also a record-marketing enterprise. The Philharmonic chooses a different conductor every year with at least one eye on how this will affect sales of the concert recording and video. Gone are the days when Clemens Krauss, then Willi Boskovsky, then Lorin Maazel conducted the concert year after year.
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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by Belle » Sat Dec 29, 2018 4:18 pm

John F wrote:
Sat Dec 29, 2018 1:37 pm
It's also a record-marketing enterprise. The Philharmonic chooses a different conductor every year with at least one eye on how this will affect sales of the concert recording and video. Gone are the days when Clemens Krauss, then Willi Boskovsky, then Lorin Maazel conducted the concert year after year.
Quite true; I have Kleiber's two appearances on DVD. Wouldn't part with them. As you say, the orchestra performs on 'auto pilot' no matter who is in front. But Kleiber could make them laugh: and it was collaborative, at least for these concerts!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Auwj4I0RpAw

No wonder women swooned!!!

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by maestrob » Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:45 am

Yes, they even had Dudamel two years ago, and while he wasn't brilliant, his enthusiasm shone through every note, and thing went well enough.

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by Belle » Sun Dec 30, 2018 5:11 pm

There will never been another Kleiber!! And his humour was wonderful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlWYT_4kmIc

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by John F » Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:00 pm

This year's concert went particularly well, I thought. Thielemann's approach was flexible in the right way, and the orchestra stayed together no matter what he did.

As usual the ballet sequences were a trial, but at the end of the first one - danced within the State Opera House - the dancers looked up in wonder as the old safety curtain, Orpheus and Euridice emerging from the underworld - was slowly lowered. That curtain hasn't been seen for 20 years, as opera director Ioan Holender had it replaced with new curtains by contemporary artists, a different one every season.As far as I'm concerned, the Orpheus curtain should continue in use forever, it's part of the house's identity as with the curtains at Covent Garden and the Met, reminders of where you are.

I wonder who searches out and programs the unknown waltzes etc. that make up much of the program, not only by the Strausses but by Hellmesberger, Lanner, and other Viennese. Surely not the actual conductor, though I should think he must have final approval of the program when it's presented to him.
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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by Belle » Wed Jan 02, 2019 2:32 am

We didn't get to see it because our Australian TV network didn't broadcast it this year. The streaming wouldn't work outside Austria and we were both furious with this situation. Naturally, I'm very interested to read your response - which was a good one.

The ballet is, indeed, very trying, cloying and faux. I've usually abandoned broadcasts in the past when this appears; watching them waltzing around the Schönbrunn Palace or Schloss Belvedere is more than I can bear - to music never intended for classical ballet dancers. (Shudder).

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by maestrob » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:33 am

I agree with JohnF that the music went well. Thielemann often started conducting 2-3 beats before the orchestra came in for several pieces, and I found this unsettling, but it didn't spoil the music. However, I had two caveats: 1) Hugh Bonneville appeared in a suit with NO TIE, just an open collar. Made him look ridiculous for such a formal occasion. As well, the choreography for the dancers was bizarrely modern and grotesque at times: it made them look like robots, rather than flowing and graceful.

I did notice at least 8 women in the orchestra this year, 4 violins, 1 cello (seen briefly from the back), 1 bassoon, 1 flute, and, of course, the harp.

That said, I also watched the NY presentation, which featured Renee Fleming in repertoire ranging from an operatic Korngold rarity to The Sound of Music. Van Zweden led an exciting and energetic performance: he seems to have the measure of the orchestra, whose players seemed delighted to let go and gave a passionate performance that pleased me in all respects. The orchestra really let go in the Lohengrin music. Well done!

Belle, I'm truly sorry you missed all this! :cry:

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by John F » Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:10 am

There are now 16 women in the VPO, half of them violinists. All but one are full members, i.e. not probationary. The director of the telecast made sure to include at least one woman in as many shots of the orchestra as possible. :)

https://www.wienerphilharmoniker.at/orchestra/members

There's only one vacancy in the State Opera Orchestra, for a violist, and only two probationary members of the Philharmonic. That looks pretty stable to me.
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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by jserraglio » Wed Jan 02, 2019 10:27 am

Belle wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 2:32 am
We didn't get to see it because our Australian TV network didn't broadcast it this year. The streaming wouldn't work outside Austria and we were both furious with this situation.
See if one of these might work for you.

Lo-res 480p/128k
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-to1GvNZM4



Hi-res 720p/192k
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-g8MnoIQrM


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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by Belle » Wed Jan 02, 2019 3:37 pm

Neither of these would work for me, but thanks for being so thoughtful and posting them.

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by Belle » Wed Jan 02, 2019 3:41 pm

maestrob wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:33 am
I agree with JohnF that the music went well. Thielemann often started conducting 2-3 beats before the orchestra came in for several pieces, and I found this unsettling, but it didn't spoil the music. However, I had two caveats: 1) Hugh Bonneville appeared in a suit with NO TIE, just an open collar. Made him look ridiculous for such a formal occasion. As well, the choreography for the dancers was bizarrely modern and grotesque at times: it made them look like robots, rather than flowing and graceful.

I did notice at least 8 women in the orchestra this year, 4 violins, 1 cello (seen briefly from the back), 1 bassoon, 1 flute, and, of course, the harp.

That said, I also watched the NY presentation, which featured Renee Fleming in repertoire ranging from an operatic Korngold rarity to The Sound of Music. Van Zweden led an exciting and energetic performance: he seems to have the measure of the orchestra, whose players seemed delighted to let go and gave a passionate performance that pleased me in all respects. The orchestra really let go in the Lohengrin music. Well done!

Belle, I'm truly sorry you missed all this! 😢
Thanks; We're both feeling left out and very annoyed. It is part of our ritual each New Year's night after 9pm to watch the Wiener Philharmoniker Neujahrskonzert. Well, my husband soldiers on long after I've given up (usually when the 'ballet' arrives).

Regarding the orchestra not playing on the conductor's first beat; you hear that this as a characteristic of the BPO - that they don't play on the first beat/s. What's this about? (I've cancelled my subscription to the Berliner Philharmoniker Digital Concert Hall as our internet service just isn't consistent enough for me to persist with it!!)

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by maestrob » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:41 am

Hi, Belle! :)

German orchestras have gotten defensive over the years, so they generally focus on the concertmaster and wait for him to start playing: it comes from generations of unclear conductors, such as Thielemann. It's called playing "behind the beat." American conductors work differently, and are trained in a clearer technique, as I learned at Juilliard, thus American orchestras play "on the beat" rather than playing behind the conductor. It's all very confusing: when American conductors lead the Vienna Philharmonic, or any other German orchestra, the orchestra has to be retrained to respond directly to the conductor. It doesn't always work: witness Zubin Mehta's appearance with Vienna 2 summers ago when they played the Grieg Concerto: the pianist came in on the beat on chords, while the orchestra straggled in following the beat. Very untidy!

I wish I could demostrate this for you: perhaps I'll do a Ted Talk one of these days on conducting technique! :wink:

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by Belle » Thu Jan 03, 2019 3:38 pm

maestrob wrote:
Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:41 am
Hi, Belle! :)

German orchestras have gotten defensive over the years, so they generally focus on the concertmaster and wait for him to start playing: it comes from generations of unclear conductors, such as Thielemann. It's called playing "behind the beat." American conductors work differently, and are trained in a clearer technique, as I learned at Juilliard, thus American orchestras play "on the beat" rather than playing behind the conductor. It's all very confusing: when American conductors lead the Vienna Philharmonic, or any other German orchestra, the orchestra has to be retrained to respond directly to the conductor. It doesn't always work: witness Zubin Mehta's appearance with Vienna 2 summers ago when they played the Grieg Concerto: the pianist came in on the beat on chords, while the orchestra straggled in following the beat. Very untidy!

I wish I could demostrate this for you: perhaps I'll do a Ted Talk one of these days on conducting technique! 😉
Thanks for this. There is already one TED talk on conducting, but it doesn't delve into actual baton technique (and I've posted this before):

https://www.ted.com/talks/itay_talgam_l ... anguage=en

The Mehta example you quote suggests quite strongly a lack of rehearsals!! And it remains enigmatic to me how Christian Thielemann could be 'unclear' as a conductor when he's at Bayreuth conducting for very long Wagnerian operas.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efJAPlpkMNQ

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by John F » Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:02 pm

I think Belle's right. After all, Zubin Mehta learned conducting in Vienna at the state music academy, his teacher was Hans Swarowsky, he made his debut conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in 1961 (I was there!), if anyone should be able to provide an intelligible beat for that orchestra 55 years later it's Mehta. From what you say, and from the music of that concerto, it would seem that the pianist was out of step, not Mehta and the orchestra. Who was the pianist?

There are many videos of concert performances by the Vienna Philharmonic led by conductors both Austrian and American. In the ones I've just now looked at, the orchestra plays on the beat, not after it. As in this Bruckner performance conducted by Karajan:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFvzEIZ8oZc

I've also seen performances in which the orchestra plays behind the beat, as you describe it, such as this one conducted by Eugen Jochum (also Bruckner) with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEvFXNKVgDQ

Jochum's beat did not seem to me likely to be very helpful to the orchestra. In a Beethoven concert in Nürnberg with the local orchestra, his right hand often moved in figure 8s (as in moments of this video). Yet they managed to stay together well enough.
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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by maestrob » Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:21 am

Mehta may have first conducted in Vienna, so what? He had his first steady engagement with Los Angeles, and spent (how many?) years in New York. His style of conducting is definitely American: had to be, in order to work with these orchestras successfully. As for the Grieg Concerto, I have the video, and the pianist (have forgotten his name: it's irrelevant) was definitely in line with Mehta's downbeat: the orchestra played behind the beat and came in late, as is their wont.

Slower music, like Bruckner, is not the problem, as there can be a delay between the conductor's indication of a downbeat and the start of the music from the orchestra, OK as long as everyone comes in together. Problems arise in faster pieces, or in co-ordinating a soloist with the orchestra.

I've discussed this at length with La Selva when he made his recording of Verdi Overtures with the Bern Symphony Orchestra. He explained to me that the orchestra adapted quite nicely to his American technique during rehearsals, although it took a bit of doing.

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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by John F » Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:36 pm

maestrob wrote:Mehta may have first conducted in Vienna, so what?
Not only that, Mehta was educated in Vienna, studied conducting at the academy there as I said and double bass with a Philharmoniker. Over the years he has very often conducted and recorded with the Philharmonic, including five New Year concerts - no living conductor has conducted more of them. He has been made an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera and the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde and honorary conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic. In his autobiography, which he wrote in German, speaks of the mutual love affair with the Philharmonic, which "has informed my work with every other orchestra I have ever been associated with." Artistically he is a son of Vienna, there's no getting around it. So I've got to believe that the performance goof you describe was a one-time accident, rather than a fundamental misunderstanding between him and the Vienna Philharmonic. I'd like to see that video for myself but it's apparently not on YouTube.

A side issue, but you raised it: a conductor does not have to be American or even speak English well to work successfully with an American orchestra. The top American orchestras have almost always had foreign music directors, and who would say that Toscanini's work with the New York Philharmonic or Solti's with the Chicago Symphony was not successful? Presently the top five American orchestras are led by a Dutchman, a Latvian, an Austrian, an Italian, and a French Canadian. The New York Philharmonic has had only two American-born conductors in its 175 years, Leonard Bernstein and Alan Gilbert; the other 25 were foreign-born. As for Mehta, he currently resides in the U.S. but remains a citizen of India. It really is not an issue.
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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by RebLem » Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:57 pm

Belle wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:30 pm
John F wrote:
Fri Dec 28, 2018 12:21 pm
Rebecca Schmid wrote:Until the 1970s, the sound culture was easily transmitted as most members studied with a Philharmonic player at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna before joining the orchestra. But in recent years, recruitment has become less and less local. The presence of family dynasties has also waned...
I wonder why. If this is so, then it will indeed be very hard for the orchestra to retain its special character, its sound and style. That would be a pity.
Agreed. There is no mystery at all; the orchestra is feeling the ideological pressure of political correctness and affirmative action, just as we all are.
It may have more to do with the growth of the local economy and that fact that young people have so many more options for successful careers than formerly. Also the increasing cost of quality string instruments must be a factor. Today, a good bow costs more than a violin of comparable quality did forty years ago.
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John F
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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by John F » Sat Jan 05, 2019 4:45 am

The abolute top quality string instruments are and aloways have been very expensive, but few players actually need to have them. An excellent modern violin suitable for playing in an orchestra costs $7,000 and up, it says here:

https://www.quora.com/How-much-does-a-v ... ilharmonic

the Vienna Philharmonic owns a set of string instruments that the players use instead of their own:
Instead of performing with their personal instruments, as is common practice in most other orchestras, members of the Vienna Philharmonic must use the set of instruments owned by the orchestra. The string section has been collected meticulously since the ensemble was founded as the Vienna Opera Orchestra, long before the Vienna Philharmonic separated. These violins, violas, cellos, and basses are renowned for their uniform sound and unique, Viennese timbre. The first violin section currently houses four Stradivarius violins, but the Philharmonic itself admits the rest of the stringed instruments are "of no outstanding quality."
http://blog.feinviolins.com/2012/06/vie ... y-and.html

Speaking of instruments, Zubin Mehta, and his relation to the Vienna Philharmonic, he writes in his memoirs that with the Los Angeles and other orchestras he has led, he had them acquire and learn to play Viennese/German trumpets, paying the players extra, and used them in the LA Phil's recording of Bruckner 8. If, nonetheless, the Mehta sound is not a replication of the Vienna Philharmonic's, as he evidently wishes, it's not for lack of trying.
John Francis

maestrob
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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by maestrob » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:27 am

John F wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:36 pm
maestrob wrote:Mehta may have first conducted in Vienna, so what?
Not only that, Mehta was educated in Vienna, studied conducting at the academy there as I said and double bass with a Philharmoniker. Over the years he has very often conducted and recorded with the Philharmonic, including five New Year concerts - no living conductor has conducted more of them. He has been made an honorary member of the Vienna State Opera and the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde and honorary conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic. In his autobiography, which he wrote in German, speaks of the mutual love affair with the Philharmonic, which "has informed my work with every other orchestra I have ever been associated with." Artistically he is a son of Vienna, there's no getting around it. So I've got to believe that the performance goof you describe was a one-time accident, rather than a fundamental misunderstanding between him and the Vienna Philharmonic. I'd like to see that video for myself but it's apparently not on YouTube.

A side issue, but you raised it: a conductor does not have to be American or even speak English well to work successfully with an American orchestra. The top American orchestras have almost always had foreign music directors, and who would say that Toscanini's work with the New York Philharmonic or Solti's with the Chicago Symphony was not successful? Presently the top five American orchestras are led by a Dutchman, a Latvian, an Austrian, an Italian, and a French Canadian. The New York Philharmonic has had only two American-born conductors in its 175 years, Leonard Bernstein and Alan Gilbert; the other 25 were foreign-born. As for Mehta, he currently resides in the U.S. but remains a citizen of India. It really is not an issue.
Quickly, all I can say is that Toscanini was crystal clear in his technique, and so is Mehta. Citing a puff-piece about how Mehta's training has "informed" him about his work with American Orchestras may improve his dignity doesn't impress me; his technique is quite clearly Americanized, as I can see with my own eyes. Mehta's recording of Mahler II w/Vienna (made some decades ago) is characterized by sloppy entrances and undisciplined playing, but is still quite good. That sense of uncertainty was definitely a hallmark of the Vienna sound then, and was, I think, a major cause of tension between the orchestra and HVK when he made his highly disciplined recordings with them, including some of my favorite R. Strauss.

As for Welser-Most and Cleveland, that's hardly an argument for great music-making, as he has been quite controversial there. I've only heard one concert with him (from Carnegie Hall) which was quite good, but the local critic (before he was dismissed) was quite negative about Welser-Most's music-making.

More later......

Belle
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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by Belle » Tue Jan 15, 2019 10:29 pm

I've found the Neujahrskonzert for 2019 on U-Tube. Hurry if you want to watch because it won't be here for long!! Christian Thielemann looks as delectable as ever; a youthful 60 in April this year. Oh, stop it!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szgpKRQohg0

John F
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Re: Vienna Philharmonic Looks to a New Generation

Post by John F » Wed Jan 16, 2019 3:12 am

Mehta's conducting technique, learned in Vienna from Hans Swarowsky, is exemplary. Nobody disputes that. But this is neither sufficient nor necessary for a conductor to achieve great performances. The obvious counterexample is Furtwängler, but look at this:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dunn_2wAs0o
John Francis

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